Red Wing Mercantile Store anything but general

When strolling downtown Red Wing, it may be evident to some that one thing is missing. To Kate Eiynck, that quintessential piece was a mercantile store.

“There’s a gap in the market for general merchandise. The folks who live here are very salt-of- the-earth kind of people. I think they get it. They want something that speaks to, I guess maybe the words I’m looking for, are modern heirloom,” Eiynck said.

Eiynck hopes to have Red Wing Mercantile open by Friday, Oct. 7, and ready for the Fall Festival of the Arts Weekend.

Eiynck currently works full time as a zoning assistant for Goodhue County. At Red Wing Mercantile, she will be working as the rural shopkeeper with hopes to eventually hire part-time staff once the store is up and running.

Items in stock at RWM will include a range of accessories including dry goods, homeware, quality clothing to outdoor and camping equipment and souvenirs. With products from Duluth Pack and supplies from Winona Canoe, the store’s focus will be local and modernized.

“The space is going to feel masculine. We don’t have a lot of apparel. If you feel comfortable in Red Wing Shoes, you’re going to feel comfortable in our store.”

Along with products to sell, she hopes later to provide classes that teach people unique crafts such as how to bake fresh bread or forage in the fall.

Eiynck said she hopes to collaborate RWM with other stores downtown. By carrying wool blankets, picnic baskets and wooden utensils, her goal is to provide customers who purchase these items a map to other stores. Once customers purchase items for an event — a picnic, for example — Eiynck wants them to be directed to other downtown stores that can help them load up with local produce and refreshments.

“I feel passionate about revitalizing the historic downtown, I think it’s within reach. We have a lot of exciting stuff that is happening here.”

The inspiration for the store has been brewing since Eiynck moved here 10 years ago, but the planning was set in motion with the Downtown Main Street Retail challenge.

By partnering with Downtown Main Street, she said she’s been able to localize the store. When first entering, customers will see Red Wing merchandise such as apparel and glassware.

Fifty percent of profits within the first couple months will go back into the community and back to Downtown Main Street.

“I think if anything my store is going to be complementary to what is here.”

With opening a new store, Eiynck expressed her concerns of what could potentially cause setbacks.

“My fear is, can I stay open? Is there enough local interest in my store at January 17, say, to March?”

Eiynck will also feature consignment agreements at RWM with local artists. There will be a rotating display of local artwork for customers to admire and purchase. The store will offer accessories to help explore the city with giftware and mementos to remember it by.

“I love Red Wing. It’s such an unpretentious place with a successful mix of a diverse demographic. It’s never become a tourist trap — it’s truly an authentic Minnesota town.”

Red Wing Mercantile will have its grand opening Oct. 7. and will be located on 415 Main St., next to the Boxrud building. Hours for the store will be 3-7 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

—Kit Murray, Republican Eagle Reporter